Preprint / Version 1

Calorie counting application use in patients with eating disorders.




adolescent, feeding and eating disorders, smartphone, anorexia


Eating disorders (ED) are psychiatric illnesses with genetic, metabolic, and neurological bases that are frequent in the adolescent population. Adolescents are the major users of applications on smartphones; there are applications for counting calories that could impact the development of an eating disorder. This study is conducted with the aim of better understanding the smartphone applications used by a sample of patients with ED and their influence on the emergence of their illness. Materials and Methods: A prospective cohort study was carried out with patients diagnosed with an ED according to DSM V criteria. The EDE-Q and a qualitative questionnaire regarding smartphone applications for calorie counting. Results: In our sample n=54, the average age was 15.5 years (8-21), the sample was mostly female (92%), and the most frequent diagnosis was anorexia (70.3%). Most participants had more than one application downloaded. The calorie counter with the most downloads was MyFitnessPal, followed by Lifesum. The participants answered that the use of these applications influenced the development of ther eating disorder. Conclusion: The information regarding the use of calorie counting applications can help parents to supervise their use and health professionals to be able to incorporate questions about their use and potential abuse into the medical interview, as well as familiarize themselves with their impact on populations at risk for development of an ED.


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